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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: 04

Apple Turnover with Brie

Marc J. Sievers

When I was little and would watch my Nan bake, she would always give me left-over scraps of pie dough to play with.  I would wrap them around apple slices and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and little did I realize then that I effectively had an instant apple turnover!  Now, 35 years later, I am still doing just that, except I have a little more culinary knowledge under by belt.

I love taking simple ingredients and injecting some new life into an old favorite, like a classic apple turnover.  My Apple Turnover with Brie has been given a Marc Sievers-twist with store-bought puff pastry, creamy Brie, lemon zest, and two different types of ground peppers:  Pink Pepper and White Pepper.  The pink peppercorns have a slightly sweeter and more floral flavor with a lemony undertone, while the white peppercorns have a much more distinctive peppery heat.  Each lends unique aromatics to help make a classic apple turnover more flavorful and complex!


Apple Turnover with Brie

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Frozen Puff Pastry - 1 sheet, thawed in the refrigerator

  • Apples – 2 Pink Lady, cored and ½-inch chopped

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Pink Peppercorns – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked (mortar and pestle works perfectly)

  • White Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

  • Sugar – 2 tablespoons, granulated

  • Lemon Zest – ¾ teaspoon

  • Brie – 4 ounces, divided

  • *Egg Wash – 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

Direction

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Begin by laying out the thawed sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface. Lightly roll into a 10-inch by 14-inch square.

  3. Cut 4 equal-sized rectangles, place onto the prepared sheet pan then place into the refrigerator.

  4. Next, in a medium sized sauce pan set over medium heat, cook the apples, sugar, salt, lemon zest, butter and both ground peppers for 15-20 minutes, or until tender but not mushy.

  5. Remove the sheet pan from the refrigerator.

  6. Spoon equal amounts of the apple mixture onto one-third of each rectangle, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges.

  7. Then, top the apple mixture with one ounce of Brie per pastry.

  8. Brush all edges with *egg wash and fold the remaining two-thirds of the dough over the filling. Gently press the edges to seal completely using a fluted pastry cutter or fork. Repeat until all turn-overs have been assembled.

  9. Place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

  10. Remove from the refrigerator, brush the top of each pastry with the egg wash and then cut three small slits through the top layer of each pastry for steam to escape.

  11. Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

  12. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

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Easter Brunch Menu

Marc J. Sievers

A well thought out menu can really make a soirée seem effortless, regardless of the time of day, theme, or occasion.  Instead of trying o make everything yourself (there is really no “knead” to make homemade baguettes!), I think a smart host/ess should always have a few tried-and-true store-bought secrets up their sleeve and at the ready.

I rely on few favorite brands that I have tested and know how to work with as ready-made components to enhance my menus and cut preparation time to a much more manageable proportion of my overall prep time.  With certain useful combos, and easy and elegant recipes, I make my guests feel welcomed, special, and most importantly I get to enjoy my own party without being on constant catering duty.  I keep flowers simple, the music light and airy, and set the table the night before.

For Easter, I love hosting a casual brunch filled with some homemade things, some store-bought things, and some easily-assembled things.  This year, Ryan and I will be spending Easter with his parent’s on their farm.  Rather than have a complicated and labor-intensive menu, we decided a brunch would be an easier idea.  Because the farm isn’t surrounded by big grocery stores and specialty food markets, I wanted to plan a menu that included things that were easy to make, had that WOW! factor, and could easily be transported from Chicago to Iowa.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope my brunch menu inspires you to host a wonderful soirée (with lots of bubbly!) filled with family and friends!  Happy Easter! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Easter Brunch Menu

French Savory Tart with Onions & Gruyere (make ahead)

Roasted Carrots with Basil & Dark Chocolate (day of)

Simple Green Salad with French Bistro Vinaigrette (make ahead)

Baguette with Salted Butter (store bought)

Chocolate Bunny Platter (store bought)

Champagne (chilled)

Fresh Orange Juice (store bought)

Sparkling Water (room temperature)

Grocery Store Flowers Turned Fabulous


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Simple Roasted Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

I have discovered that the simpler the food the more everyone loves it, this has held true whether cooking for just Ryan, or for a crowd.  Now, do not confuse the word simple with the word boring—there is a huge difference between classic flavors and no flavor at all!  This is exactly what I love about my Simple Roasted Potatoes—I have taken a classic dish and enhanced the flavors as simply as possible.  The resulting recipe is as basic as it gets, yet incredibly delicious.

Roasting the potatoes in a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, really brings out their natural flavor and makes them crispy on the outside and like little fluffy pillows inside.  I love using gorgeous heirloom varieties that come in the most stunning colors, adding even more personality to such a simple but satisfying recipe!


Simple Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • Small Multicolored Potatoes – 1 ¾ pounds, cut in half or quarters (depending on the size)

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Place the cut potatoes onto a half sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange them in a single layer.

  3. Roast for 45-55 minutes, until the edges are crisp and browned, tossing once during the cooking process.

  4. Serve immediately.

Idea: This is the most basic recipe for roasting the smaller varieties of potatoes.  While these are completely delicious and flavorful as is, experiment with different garnishes; fresh parsley, smoked paprika, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or truffle salt.  These are perfect for serving along side breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.  

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The Peanut Butter Puppenheimer - The Perfect Dog Treat

Marc J. Sievers

There is nothing I love better than spoiling our little pup Lady von Puppenheimer with kisses, toys, and her favorite homemade dog treat – The Peanut Butter Puppenheimer!  After spending years owning a luxury pet boutique and portrait studio, where I would cater to my four-legged clients (and their owners!), I never did find a softer dog treat that could easily be broken in little pieces for small dogs.

So, I was determined to create the solution myself in my own kitchen and started developing and testing dog treats.  I make these treats with 100% organic human-grade ingredients to ensure there are as healthy and delicious as can be.  In fact, as they bake, they smell so good you’d swear they were a treat for yourself!  These make a wonderful host/ess gift for fellow dog lovers – just stack a few in a glycine bag and tie with a colorful ribbon.  Just remember to let the recipient know they are for little Fido!


The Peanut Butter Puppenheimer

Ingredients (makes 28-30 treats)

  • Banana – ½, mashed

  • Peanut Butter – ½ cup, smooth

  • Vegetable Stock – ½ cup, room temperature

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Whole Wheat Flour – 1 cup

  • Baking Powder – 1½ teaspoons

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the banana, peanut butter, honey, and vegetable stock.

  3. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix until just combined.

  4. Place spoonful's of batter, about 1 tablespoon each, onto the prepared baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart.

  5. Flatten in crisscross pattern with a fork. Each cookie should be about ½-inch thick.

  6. Bake for 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.

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Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles

Marc J. Sievers

 

The dried spice blend Herbes de Provence is such a fabulous ingredient to have on hand!  This South of France signature seasoning is a blend of aromatic spices such as lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, fennel seed, marjoram, and sage.  Traditionally, it is used to flavor meats, poultry, and vegetables, however, I have used it in soups, breads, and now as the star (yet unexpected!) ingredient in my Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles!  I just love how the savory blend of herbs compliments the intensity of the dark chocolate and natural sweetness of the heavy cream – a match made in confectionary heaven!  Serve these sophisticated chocolates with a bold red wine, very dry Champagne, or alongside a cheese plate for an exciting twist!


Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles (makes 12-14 truffles)

Ingredients

·       Dark Chocolate – 6 ounces, finely chopped

·       Heavy Cream – ½ cup

·       Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

·       Herbes de Provence – 2 teaspoons, dried

·       Cocoa Powder – ⅓ cup, unsweetened (Pernigotti recommended)

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream and Herbes de Provence. Bring to just under the boiling point, then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate and butter into a large glass bowl. Set aside.

  3. Bring the heavy cream infusion back up to just under the boiling point. Using a fine mesh sieve strain the mixture over the chocolate, pressing down on the herbs with a wooden spoon making sure to extract all of the cream. Stir until completely smooth. This creates the ganache base.

  4. Place the ganache into the refrigerator to firm up, about 2 hours.

  5. Place the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Using a 1-inch scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of ganache and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

  6. After you have scooped all the ganache, roll each one by hand into a ball and then roll each truffle through the cocoa powder to coat.

  7. Arrange on a serving platter, or place into an airtight container. Truffles can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

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French Bistro Vinaigrette

Marc J. Sievers

Every time I am in Paris, I am mesmerized at how simple and delicious the classic bistro food is!  The menus are long and extensive, but each and every dish seems to be accompanied by a petite salad dressed in a light and creamy vinaigrette – the iconic creamy mustard vinaigrette.  There are thousands of cookbooks and online recipes with different versions on this classic vinaigrette with alternating ingredients and measurements.  And truth be told, some of the ones I tried are really very good, just not what I remember from my Parisian experiences. 

So I set off on my vinaigrette journey armed with an obscene amount of oils, jars of different mustards, whisks, and measuring cups.  Batches and batches later I finally figured out a few small but important tricks to recreate this iconic dressing at home in Chicago; Crème Fraiche, a garlic press, and a combination of both olive oil & vegetable oil.  Adding Crème Fraiche gave it more of a creaminess and tang, that when I left it out, it was noticeable in both texture and flavor.  Instead on mincing the garlic and having the vinaigrette have small pieces in it, using the garlic press turned the garlic into almost a paste which incorporated into the dressing better.  Finally, adding both the olive oil and vegetable oil was, I my opinion, the biggest key to my French Bistro Vinaigrette.  Using all olive oil was too heavy in taste, and using all vegetable oil didn’t add any flavor.  Using both was the perfect combination!

Making my French Bistro Vinaigrette doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and is the perfect accompaniment on a variety of salads, even ones with roasted vegetables and fruit.  It is also quite lovely to decorate a cheese plate with – the mustard really comes through the dressing and amps up the flavors of certain cheeses, like Gruyere.  It is also fabulous to serve alongside a crudité platter.  Salad greens, vegetables, cheeses, and fruits are about to become even more exciting!

Watch my webisode on French Bistro Vinaigrette


French Bistro Vinaigrette 

Ingredients (make 1 ¼ cups)

  • Egg Yolks – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Champagne Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Crème Fraiche – 1 tablespoon

  • Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons

  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed using a garlic press

  • Vegetable Oil – 7 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.

  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.

Tip: This is by far my most favorite vinaigrette and one that I keep constantly on hand.  It can be prepared up to 7 days in advance and stored in an air tight container.

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Sparkling Raspberry Sorbet

Marc J. Sievers

It is no secret I love to entertain at home!  From menu planning, to setting the table, or spending time in my kitchen, I will find any excuse to throw a soirée!  While I certainly have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure my guests are always having a fabulous time, my #1 tip is to never make everything yourself.  I like to choose two or three different dishes to prepare, then rely on favorite store-bought brands, bakeries, and gourmet markets to round out my menu.  It’s the simplest way to ensure that I have fun at my own parties!

They say the dessert is what people always remember from any party.  A really good dessert is always something I like to pay special attention to.  Whether I am making it myself or heading to one of my neighborhood bakeries, I make sure to always have something that will WOW! everyone – myself included!  That is exactly what my Sparking Raspberry Sorbet will do at your next party—it will bring that perfect WOW! factor.  This particular dessert relies on simple components; really good Champagne, really good store-bought Raspberry Sorbet, and the most flavorful homemade Four Berry Sauce.

Besides being a perfectly elegant dessert for any occasion, it is one of the easiest desserts to assemble.  Once you make the Four Berry Sauce (which uses frozen berries and can be stored in the refrigerator), it all comes together in just a few minutes!  I love to serve this in a small coupe, small bowl, or even in a martini glass.  Bottoms (and spoons!) up!


Four Berry Sauce

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • Frozen Berry Medley – 1 pound (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, & blueberries)

  • Raspberry Preserves – 2 tablespoons

  • Raspberry Liqueur – 1 tablespoon, Chambord preferred

  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the frozen berries, preserves, liqueur, and lemon zest.

  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have released their juices and are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl. Transfer the mixture into the sieve.

  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon press the mixture through the sieve.

  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve: Layer this luscious berry sauce in a small coupe with a single scoop of raspberry sorbet and ¼ cup of very dry, chilled Champagne.  It is a perfect dessert for a grown-up celebration, very elegant presentation, and just an all around fabulous surprise for your guests.  

Tip: If you don’t have raspberry preserves, you can substitute strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  The pectin in the preserves is what will thicken the berry sauce slightly.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

If you have never made homemade ice cream, you are in for a real treat!  A few months ago, I was making my Velvety Hot Chocolate from my first cookbook Entertaining with Love, and while I was measuring out the ingredients it occurred to me that they were very similar to the base ingredients for my ice cream recipe.  After a bit of tweaking (and lots of taste testing!), my Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream was churning away in my ice cream maker, ready for its close-up!

This is by far the best and most luxurious chocolaty ice cream I have ever had, let alone made myself!  The texture is similar to a velvety mousse—light, airy, and incredibly silky.  The flavors are so rich and intense, from using really good ingredients (particularly the chocolate and cocoa powder), and my secret ingredient:  Fleur de Sel caramel sauce.  Rather than make your own caramel sauce for a few tablespoons, I like to use a good store-bought one.  In fact, my favorite jar is from Trader Joe’s (also where I buy my chocolate bars by the pound).

For the ultimate ice cream enjoyment, allow each scoop to sit at room temperature for a few minutes and you will be able to taste the flavors much better than it being ice-cold.  The most perfect chocolate ice cream is calling your name – enjoy!


Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 quart)

  • Milk Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Dark Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Cocoa Powder – ¼ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce – 3 tablespoons, good store-bought variety

  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – 1/8 teaspoon

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoon

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, brown sugar, caramel sauce, and both chocolates. Whisk until the chocolate is just melted.

  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa powder.

  3. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is very cold.

  4. Once the mixture is chilled, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.

  5. Scoop out the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours.

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Small But Mighty Kitchen!

Marc J. Sievers

My kitchen is my workshop, my office, and my playground!  I spend a great deal of time in my kitchen recipe testing for my new book (coming later this year!) and my blog La Vie Piquant, and of course creating all kinds of dishes and desserts for cocktail and dinner parties.  I have put a lot of thought and love into my kitchen, to make it both functional and inspirational.

Recently, I had a few renovations done to further improve the look and feel of my small but mighty kitchen!  In fact, I’m so excited about the updates that I kicked off Series 4 of From My Kitchen to Yours with a webisode dedicated to giving you a tour of my mighty little kitchen and some of the thinking and purpose behind my design choices.  This is my real kitchen in my apartment in Chicago.  No studio or sets involved!  This is where I do all my creative development for my books, blog, and professional services.  Watch the webisode below, and here I include a few more ideas and detail that didn’t make it into the webisode.

While I didn’t outline each and every detail of my new kitchen, I think that ones that I highlighted are really ideas and concepts that can work in any kitchen, regardless of the size.  When you spend as much time in the kitchen as I do, having a space that is as customized to fit your needs is essential.  The kitchen, for me, has never been a place for the latest trendy things—it is a place that artfully combines the functional and the beautiful.  Timeless tools, like a food mill for example, will always have a place in my kitchen, along with cozy details that reflect my tastes and personality.  (Did you catch the photograph above the doorframe?  That’s my Nan’s kitchen where I first learned to cook.)

Here are some of the highlights I mentioned in my webisode, as well as some additional design ideas:

Under-Cabinet Lighting

This small details adds instant warmth to any kitchen.  It also offers a lovely glow during dinner parties, particularly if your kitchen can be seen or is open to the dining room.  I opted for LED lighting that simply plugs into any standard wall outlet—no electrician needed!

Peg Board

My board is the “work horse” of my small kitchen.  Not only do I store some of my most-used kitchen equipment, but it also holds items that are either bulky or hard to store.  For me, having things out in the open reminds that I have them (and to use them!).

Refrigerator

Even though my refrigerator is just a standard size and design, I have customized it to suit my needs.  I changed the function of the crisper draws by removing them completely and lining the base with a rubberized mat to store bottles of Champagne, white wine, and other bottles.  Now, instead of fresh produce disappearing into a drawer to be forgotten, all of my fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits are stored in line-of-sight on the shelves, making it easier to “shop” my own refrigerator. 

That works only because I also organized all the other “stuff” that shares the shelves with my produce, grouping bottles of condiments and other items in clear refrigerator-safe plastic bins.  This saves me from the unwieldy mess that can happen with refrigerator shelves, and the dreaded “lost bottles” or “mystery cheese” that are only ever found again then they break, stink, or you move.

No Microwave

My microwave was positioned directly over my stovetop and was what I stared at all day when in the kitchen cooking—it drove me CRAZY!  So, I had it removed and installed a decorative (but functional) glass shelf in its place.  First, that got the hulking beast of a thing out of my face, and opened up the space.  It also allowed me to free up my limited counter space from the myriad little things that seem to multiply, like salts, pepper, oil, etc.  Now, I store things I use almost every day when cooking:  Salts, pepper mills, a timer, Cognac, and more.  I replaced the microwave with a much smaller model and moved it to the top of the cabinets.  This works for me since I don’t use my microwave very often.  I drilled a small hole in the top of the cabinet to feed the power cord through and plugged it in to the existing power source inside the upper cabinet where the old unit was plugged into.  One the best visual and functional changes to the kitchen.

Baking Center

I purposely segmented my kitchen into areas for different types of cooking:  Savory and sweet.  It also helps when Ryan and I are in the kitchen together.  A planned space is a harmonious space!  My baking center is where I store all of the baking accoutrements, ingredients, pans, and flat sheets of parchment paper.  I store all of my chocolate-based ingredients and nuts and dried fruits in small plastic bins.  This allows me to pull down the bin and riffle through it looking for exactly what I need without making a mess of the entire cabinet every time.

Wall Mounted Knife & Spice Rack

Because counter space is limited and a true commodity in my kitchen, I try to keep as much off the countertops as possible!  I mounted a magnetic knife strip to the wall, opting to get rid of a clunky knife block.  I also did the same with spice racks.  Even my utensil crocs are taller, narrow, and have a small footprint.

Upper Cabinet Storage

Since my cabinets do not go all the way to the ceiling, I have utilized that precious space for storing glass jars with dried grains, beans, large appliances (like a small microwave, convection oven, Champagne/party tub, etc.), and bottles sparkling and still water.

All Food, No Dishes

Only one cabinet has mugs and everyday drinking glasses in it, otherwise I made a conscious choice to store only food and equipment for preparing food in the kitchen.  That way the kitchen is fully functional as the place for food prep and cooking, and the dining room is fully functional with all of the dishes and glassware at the ready in the cabinets and buffet that are located right near the dining table.  At first, it felt like I was breaking some sort of kitchen rule.  But, once I realized that it was functionally awkward to do it any other way, it just made sense and works so well.

Décor Updates

I had the countertops replaced with a light quartz and changed the wall color from a dark chocolate brown to a lighter French gray.  I kept the blond cabinets as the wood tone softens the space while keeping it airy.  My signature color is orange (have you noticed around here?!) and so I chose to paint the peg board orange and let the color peek through the utensils, pans, and equipment.  It gives a lively energy and really makes the peg board a fun focal point that’s part of the ambiance and design of the kitchen.  But, I didn’t use the orange any other place.  In small spaces it is easy to overdo it.  And on that note, I removed many of the decorative bobbles I used to have on the walls.  Over time it started to feel a bit cluttered and became a bit heavy.  With the new lighter French gray, I decided to pair everything down to what is most meaningful to me.  The uncluttered look helps when I get whipped up into a frenzy in the kitchen and don’t feel overwhelmed.

Lastly, I had the tile floors redone to match the wood floors in the rest of the apartment.  The darker floors actually soften the space and make it warmer without making it feel smaller.  In fact, by having the wood of the apartment extend into the kitchen it actually feels more cohesive and connected, and even a bit larger.  It is amazing how updating just a few square feet of space can have such a dramatic effect.

Over-Head Lighting

I mentioned the under-counter, but I also updated the lights in the ceiling with “daylight” toned LED lights and put them on dimmers.  When I really need bright light in the kitchen I can crank them up and see what I need to see, without additional heat.

Little Adjustments

My kitchen, like everyone else’s, has its quirks.  One of which is no dedicated ventilation.  So, I bought a tower fan that hides just outside the kitchen.  When I’m baking or using all the burners at once, it slides over and circulates the air wonderfully.  A little addition that has made an enormous difference.

I also have a very shallow sink (the dishwasher is below it) with no possibility of a sprayer.  So, I found a fabulous Italian spring-mounted faucet with a sprayer built in!  And lastly, I softened the door frame (which has no door) with an asymmetrical curtain, which can be drawn to close off the space visually if I ever want to during a dinner party.

I hope these design ideas and tips that I’ve developed for my kitchen are useful and you find some inspiration for taking a fresh approach with your own space.  I’m always curious and trying to innovate, so if you have your own ideas please share them in a comment below!

Happy kitchening!

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Fig & Cream Scones

Marc J. Sievers

Scones may be one of the easiest things to bake, and with endless flavor combinations!  They can be savory or sweet, and are the perfect addition to a brunch, afternoon tea, or even as a dessert warmed through with a scoop of ice cream.

The process of making scones is really combining just a few simple ingredients and then adding a signature flavor—in this case, dried figs.  Dried Black Mission Figs are a pantry staple in my house.  I love to serve them with cheese boards, as a nibble with drinks, in pasta dishes, and especially in my Fig & Cream Scones.

For this recipe, I increased the salt slightly as it helps to balance the natural sweetness of the figs and cream.  If you really want to up the flavor factor, serve these with English Clotted Cream (or unsalted French butter) and fig preserves – pure heaven!

Happy cooking!


Fig & Cream Scones

Ingredients (makes 8 scones)

  • Flour – 2 cups, all purpose, plus 1 tablespoon

  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon

  • Baking Powder – 1 tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, very cold, diced

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature, lightly beaten

  • Heavy Cream – ½ cup, very cold

  • Dried Figs – 1 cup, diced ½-inch, Black Mission variety preferred

  • *Egg Wash – 1 extra-large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, toss the diced figs with 1 tablespoon of flour and set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the remaining 2 cups of flour, as well as the sugar, baking powder, salt, and cold butter. Mix on low speed until the butter resembles the size of peas.

  4. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the cold heavy cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs. Mix until just combined. The dough will be very sticky.

  5. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the dough into a disc.

  6. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a square, roughly ¾-inch thick. Cut the square into quarters, and cut each quarter in half, as a triangle.

  7. Place each scone onto the prepared sheet pan and brush with egg wash*.

  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops and edges are lightly brown.

  9. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

Tip: If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a pastry blender to quickly break the butter into pea-sized pieces.  Then, add the cold cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs.  With your hand slightly cupped quickly work the liquid and figs into the flour.  Follow the remaining direction numbered 5 through 9.

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Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth

Marc J. Sievers

Last year, while Ryan and I were in Paris, we went to an absolutely fabulous and charming Basque restaurant called Beaurepaire.  We went with friends on our last night there.  The restaurant itself was a cozy little place very near to Notre-Dame, on the Left Bank situated at a quaint little cobblestone square along rue de la Bûcherie (one of the oldest streets in Paris).

A friend we were traveling with had suggested the restaurant after she visited it before on a prior trip.  The cuisine is of Northern Basque Country, which is actually in southern France, but is a region of blending cultures where the northern border of Spain and the southern border of France have melded over the centuries.  It is a rustic and earthy cuisine with all of the advantages and refinements brought out in a Parisian restaurant.

We sat at a country-style table and perused the menu, full of surprises, questions, and delights.  I noticed that they had an onion soup available and learned from the waitress that it was, in fact, vegetarian!  She was surprised that I was surprised and further explained that it was made with onions, water, cream, butter, and a little bit of salt and pepper.  C’est tout.

Because my French is non-existent, I asked her again just to make sure we both understood.  She replied emphatically in English, “Absolutely not!  Why would we ever use broth in our onion soup?”  Being a vegetarian, I hardly ever get to enjoy soup at most restaurants as it’s invariably made with some sort of beef or chicken broth (out of laziness, according to our hostess that evening). So, as my first course I elected the Northern Basque-inspired onion soup.

When it arrived I knew I was in for a treat.  The soup was light, rich, and very thin—it rather resembled a sipping broth—and had an aroma I can only describe as deliciously honest.  I knew exactly what was in it.  It was garnished with a few dashes of hot paprika, bit of fresh green herbs, and two pieces of baguette bread lightly toasted with delicious Gruyère cheese melted on top.  After my first sip I literally exclaimed it was the best soup I had ever had in my life.  It was a beautiful savory broth that was lightly flavored with onions and made perfectly luxurious with cream.  It was so incredible that I asked if I could cancel my main course and have an even bigger bowl instead, and of course with more bread!  She happily obliged. 

For almost a year I have talked about the Beaurepaire onion broth, telling anyone who will listen to me about the world’s greatest soup, just how absolutely fantastic it was, and how I was eager to get into the kitchen and try my hand at this delicious savory onion broth.  After a few rounds of testing, especially during the properly chilly winter weather we have been having in Chicago, I finally came up with my version:  Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth.

This is a very thin, but warmly rich, broth that is perfect for sipping at the beginning of a meal, enjoyed on a cold afternoon to warm up after a day of being outside (Après-ski, anyone?!), and especially when you are feeling a bit under the weather—it instantly warms your toes and makes you feel cozy.  I have found that the best serving size is between 5 to 6 ounces.  The flavors are light, well-rounded, and subtle.  Just as the Beaurepaire chef did, I finish my Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth with a dash of hot paprika and some finely minced flat leaf parsley.

You can serve this either in a teacup or mug so it can be sipped slowly and savored (the teacup adds a bit of fun when serving!).  In fact, as I’m writing, I am watching the snow fall on a fabulous and tranquil afternoon and I have a little cup right next to me to help stay warm!

Happy cooking!


Luxurious Onion Sipping Broth

 

Ingredients (makes about 7 cups)

  • Yellow Onions – 10 cups, sliced ¼-inch thick

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, thinly sliced

  • Sea Salt – 1 ¼ teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Water – 10 cups

  • Heavy Cream – ¾ cup

  • Hot Paprika – for garnish, optional

  • Flat Leaf Parsley – finely minced, for garnish, optional

Directions

  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, add the butter. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10-12 minutes until translucent and tender, stirring occasionally.

  2. Next, add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes. Then, remove from the heat.

  3. Using a slotted spoon and working in small batches, remove all of the onion and garlic pieces and place them into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently press to expel as much liquid as possible. Once all of the onions have been processed, return all of the liquid back into the pan.

  4. Stir in the heavy cream and gently reheat over low heat.

  5. Check for seasoning, and serve. Garnish with a few dashes of hot paprika and a little fresh parsley, if desired.

Tip: This broth can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Gently reheat over a low heat before serving.

Idea: Since this is really more of a sipping broth it is really meant to either start a meal, or be served as a goûter (afternoon snack) to help warm you up on a chilly afternoon or evening.  Of course, just the broth alone is a fabulous light lunch or dinner with a big green salad, baguette, and some cheeses—très chic!  It is equally as flavorful with or without the addition of garnishes. 

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Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries

Marc J. Sievers

During a busy work week when Ryan has late meetings and I have been in the kitchen recipe testing, or writing, the idea of whipping up an elaborate dinner couldn’t be further from my mind!  Instead, when those long days end, we like to relax on the couch, sip wine or Champagne, chat about our day, and “nibble” on cheeses, fruit, bread, and chocolate.  Of course, there are many nights we just do that out of habit—and not a bad habit if I say so myself!  When we want to really indulge, I pull out the big guns, or in our case, fabulous and creamy Triple Cream Brie!

As a lover of all types of French fries, I wanted to find an elegant way to serve one of my favorite basic food groups (they’re a food group, right?!), like on a random Tuesday night or for a Saturday night soirée.  Roasting big wedges of sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper really brings out the flavor of this almost creamy vegetable, and also makes the outside nicely crisp.  When paired with fresh basil and Triple Cream Brie, and set under a broiler for just a minute, the result is over-the-top flavor and fantastic texture!

My Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries are the perfect thing to serve with drinks at a cocktail party, or alongside a big green salad and hearty soup for either a lunch or dinner (pass the baguette, please!), and especially after a long day when only a giant pan of richness will make the world’s problems melt away! 

From my kitchen to yours – happy cooking!


Sweet Potato & Triple Cream Fries

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Sweet Potatoes – 4 medium, peeled

  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Rosemary – 1 teaspoon, fresh, finely minced

  • Triple Cream Brie – 4 ½ ounces, with rind, thinly sliced, cut into ¾-inch pieces, chilled

  • Basil – ¼ cup, fresh, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary and garlic. Set aside.

  3. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into three long wedges.

  4. Place the wedges onto a sheet pan and toss with olive oil. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.

  5. Roast for 20 minutes, and then turn each wedge with a spatula. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the rosemary and garlic mixture, and bake for an addition 5 minutes.

  6. Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Set the broiler to high.

  7. Place the wedges into an oven-proof serving dish. Evenly distribute the cheese and then place under the broiler until the Brie is bubbly and melted, about 2-3 minutes.

  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Idea: Using a cast iron skillet as a serving dish allows you to go from hot broiler to table – just remember to use a trivet on top of your table.  

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White Chocolate Truffles with Butterscotch Schnapps

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever I really want to make a great culinary impression on someone, I bring them my homemade chocolate truffles!  While truffles look (and taste) like they take days to make (who has time for that?!), they actually take under an hour to create, and use the simplest of ingredients.  The real difference in taste and texture is made with very good quality ingredients, especially the chocolate.

There are endless flavor combinations for truffles, but one of my favorites are White Chocolate Truffles with Candied Pecans.  The white chocolate has such a delicate vanilla flavor on its own and is enhanced with Butterscotch Schnapps—a light booziness that rolls around on your tongue with a rich delight.  The crunch of chopped candied pecans is what makes this particular truffle even more flavorful and delicious! 

The creamy white chocolate ganache with the sweet crunch of the chopped nuts is a perfect flavor and texture combination.  Very rarely does it get any better—or any easier—than this!  Don’t take my word for it, make them and taste for yourself! 


White Chocolate Truffles with Candied Pecans

Ingredients (makes 20-22 truffles)

  • White Chocolate – 8 ounces, rough chopped

  • Heavy Cream – 1 ½ tablespoons

  • Butterscotch Schnapps – 1 tablespoon

  • Sea Salt – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Candied Pecans – ¾ cup, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Place a heat-proof bowl over barely simmering water. Add the heavy cream and chopped chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla, and Schnapps. Stir until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.

  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  4. Scoop rounded Tablespoon-sized portions of chocolate and place each one onto the lined baking sheet.

  5. Gently roll each one into a ball and immediately roll through the chopped candied pecans.

  6. Place in the refrigerator to set. Serve at room temperature.

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Simmering Winter Potpourri on WGN

Marc J. Sievers

During the winter, I love to have a pot simmering on the stove filled with quintessential seasonal aromatics that make my home smell welcoming and festive.  Just before Christmas, I had the pleasure of showcasing some last-minute decor ideas on WGN News and this (along with a few others!) was a hit in the newsroom!  My Simmering Winter Potpourri does just the trick!  Things like cinnamon, orange, rosemary, and even Balsam branches gently release their fragrance in spiced apple cider and fill the air with the most wonderful scent.  The best part is all you need to do is add more apple cider or water as needed and your home will smell like a wintery wonderland!  

Happy Holidays - from me to you!   


Simmering Winter Potpourri

Components

  • Apple Cider – 2 cups

  • Water – 3 cups

  • Orange – 1 large, sliced ½-inch thick

  • Rosemary – 3 springs, fresh

  • Balsam Branches – 8 small springs

  • Cinnamon Sticks – 3

  • Cloves – 10, whole

Directions

  1. Add all of the components to a saucepan and bring to just under the boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer. Allow the aromatics to simmer throughout the day or evening, adding more water and apple cider as necessary.

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Deck Your Home with All Things Jolly!

Marc J. Sievers

During the holidays, time can play a huge roll when it comes to finishing the little details.  Use the ideas I’ve created here to help set the mood for a festive soirée and still have time to bake those 21 dozen decorated cookies you planned on giving out to your friends and colleagues this year (remember that idea you got after a bottle of wine and endless hours on Pinterest?!).

I believe that each and every day should be festive, stylish, and simple.  When I am coming up with holiday décor ideas I try to use easily-found components, concepts that do not take hours to complete, materials that are budget friendly, and most importantly ideas that won’t take an entire weekend to finish.  This year, I wanted to add a bit of holiday cheer to everyday items commonly found around the house, your local grocery store, and maybe a quick trip to a craft store (don’t worry, I promise no glitter!).  And since I live in a mid-rise, I also wanted to highlight holiday ideas that don’t require “storage” after—making them perfect for a smaller space to add a festive touch!

This is my favorite time of year, and I want to take as much time as I can celebrating and entertaining my friends, family, and clients—with my simple ideas here you will be able to join the party and deck your home with all things jolly!

My original article was written for FW: Chicago Magazine - Holiday Edition


Tinsel Bowl:

This crystal bowl filled with mini LED battery-operated lights and silver tinsel is a must for part of your holiday décor this year!  The effect of the sparkling crystal against the shiny tinsel, all illuminated with tiny lights adds a “WOW!” factor to any table, sideboard, or entry.  The same concept can be done in any clear vessel—so use your imagination!  Imagine multiples of these down the center of your dining table for a dinner party – I’ll bring the champagne!


Ribbon Napkin Rings:

A simple white cotton napkin gets a festive and glamorous makeover with the addition of tartan plaid ribbon, tied in a big bow, then adorned with a sprig of fresh rosemary and crystal chandelier prisms (which I found on Amazon.com).  At the end of your dinner party (or buffet), encourage guests to take the crystals home to adorn their tree—an instant take-away bobble—and enjoy for years to come!  


Peppermint Hurricanes:

Plain glass hurricanes and unscented white pillar candles turn into a winter wonderland with peppermint candies and regular coarse Kosher salt—all available at your local grocery store!  Fill the bottom ¼ full of peppermints then pour spoonfuls of coarse salt over the candies.  Not only does the salt take on a snow-like effect, it also helps to stabilizes the candle base.  Place these all over your home to instantly add a bit of holiday cheer to any room or table.


Silver Tray with Cards

A silver tray filled with holiday cards set either atop a coffee table or under your Christmas tree is probably the chicest way to both display and contain all of those “fa la la” greetings!  If you don’t have a silver tray (I find mine at flea markets and thrift stores) a decorative bowl or even a large platter will work just fine.  


Bow-Tied Flutes:

Transform everyday stemmed glassware with the addition of tiny red velvet bows to add instant holiday cheer!  These charming little bows already come with a twist-tie closure, making the application just a few twists away (martini, anyone?)!  Best of all, after your soirée, you can either save the bows for next year or use them to decorate packages!  


Cinnamon Bundles:

Easily found at your local grocery store, cinnamon sticks tied in little bundles with velvet ribbon are the perfect addition to the doorknob of a powder room, as package ties, around a wine bottle for a host/ess gift, or even hung throughout your Christmas tree to add a spicy scent (especially if you have a faux tree).  A little spice, and everything nice!

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Apple Salad with Croutons

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things about writing recipes is surprising readers and my guests with complex flavors by using everyday ingredients!  My Apple Salad with Croutons made its television debut on WGN TV Midday News: Lunchbreak and the star of the dish was my simple and incredibly flavorful homemade vinaigrette!

I made the vinaigrette with cinnamon, honey, and apple cider vinegar as my secret ingredients.  All of those flavors are classic combinations with apple, and the addition of tart cranberries, intense Blue Cheese, nuts, and crunchy croutons creates a layered and complex salad with wonderfully everyday ingredients. A match made in food-flavor heaven!  In fact, I served this same salad on Thanksgiving Day, and the entire platter was devoured with guests actually asking for seconds – of salad!  


Apple Salad with Croutons

Ingredients for Salad (serves 8)

  • Granny Smith Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Honey Crisp Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1/3 cup

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup

  • Dried Cranberries – ½ cup

  • Pistachios – ½ cup

  • Candied Pecans – ½ cup

  • Blue Cheese – 4 ounces, crumbled

  • Arugula or Spring Mix – 8 ounces

Directions for Salad

  1. Start by placing the cut apples in a large bowl of cold water. Add the lemon juice, and allow to sit until ready to serve.

  2. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking vigorously. Set aside.

  3. Drain the apples.

  4. Arrange the greens down the center of a big platter. Add the apples, dried cranberries, pistachios, pecans, and blue cheese on top. Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette.

  5. Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Croutons

  • Demi Baguette – cut into ½-inch cubes

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted

Directions

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the bread cubes.

  2. Toast for 5-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown.

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Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Marc J. Sievers

My Pumpkin Spice Trifle is one of my all-time favorite desserts to make during the holidays!  Filled with the most flavorful Spiced Pound Cake and luxurious Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream, this trifle will be a fabulous addition to your holiday soirée.  While there a few steps for each component, a majority of them like the pound cake and pastry cream can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Then, all you need to do is make some Vanilla Whipped Cream, and then assemble the trifle!

You can also assemble this dessert in individual glass bowls or parfait glasses.  Simply follow the same assembly instructions but for each individual dish.  The dessert can sit out for a couple of hours, making it a perfect seasonal dessert for entertaining.  This is one of those desserts that you and your guests will always remember – and ask for year after year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Ingredients (serves 8)

Pumpkin Orange Pasty Cream

  • Half and Half – 2 cups

  • Egg Yolks – 6 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ¼ cup, lightly packed

  • Pumpkin Purée – ½ cup (not pie filling)

  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon

  • Orange Zest – 1½ tablespoons, finely grated

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – 1½ tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cornstarch – ¼ cup

Spiced Pound Cake

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, room temperature, plus more for preparing pans

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, room temperature

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoons

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – ¼ cup

  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated

  • Golden Raisins – 1 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Cloves – ½ teaspoon

  • Allspice – ½ teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon, dried

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream – 2 cups, very cold

  • Granulated Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tablespoon, pure extract

Components

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 5 tablespoons, store-bought

  • Gingersnap Cookies – 9 ounces, lightly crushed

Directions

Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, both sugars, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, orange zest, salt, and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Next, in a medium-sized sauce pan set over medium heat add the milk and heat until just under the simmering point.

  3. Remove from the heat and, very slowly, add the hot milk to the pumpkin mixture in small amounts while whisking constantly.

  4. Return the mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 7 to 9 minutes, until very thick. Do not be alarmed when the mixture turns lumpy.

  5. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard. Refrigerate until completely cool, or until ready to use - up to 3 days.

Spiced Pound Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour (2) 9x5-inch loaf pans and set aside. Toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. With the mixer turned to low speed, add the vanilla, honey, and eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Turn the mixer off.

  4. Next, in a large bowl sift together the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Then, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold in the raisins.

  6. Transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible.

  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream and whisk on low.

  2. Gradually raise the speed of the mixer from low to high, making sure the cream does not splatter out of the bowl.

  3. Once the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until it forms stiff peaks, or about 1 to 2 minutes.

Assembly

  1. Cut the pound cake into ½-inch thick slices.

  2. Place a layer of cake in the bottom of a 2½ to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit as necessary. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of caramel. Top with a layer of the pastry cream, then a layer of whipped cream, then sprinkle with crushed gingersnap cookies.

  3. Repeat the same process 3 more times. The completed trifle will have 4 glorious layers.

A Helpful Preparation Timeline

  1. First, bake the Spiced Pound Cake - up to 3 days in advance.

  2. Then make the Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream - up to 3 days in advance.

  3. When you are ready to assemble, find your favorite trifle dish, have your store-bought components ready, and then make the Vanilla Whipped Cream.

  4. Assemble the Pumpkin Spiced Trifle and serve!

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Mulled Wine

Marc J. Sievers

Every year Ryan and I attend the Christkindlemarket in Chicago which is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany.  The Christkindlmarket Chicago brings cherished German and European traditions, with international flair and local charm, to Chicago.  One of my favorite things to get every time I go is something called Glühwein or mulled wine usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices.  It is typically served hot and is a traditional drink during colder months.  Think of it like the European cousin of Sangria.

My version of Mulled Wine gets it's depth of flavor from a good Cabernet Sauvignon, spiced apple cider, peppercorns, and other aromatics!  You can allow the wine to sit on the stove at the lowest heat keeping it warm throughout your party and guests can serve themselves.  Of course, this can be made days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to serve, gently re-heat over a low flame, then toast to good health!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Mulled Wine

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Spiced Apple Cider – 4 cups

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – 1 bottle (750ml)

  • Honey – ½ cup

  • Black Peppercorns – 25, whole

  • Cinnamon Sticks – 4

  • Cloves – 8, whole

  • Star Anise – 3, whole

  • Orange – 1 large, juiced

  • Orange Peel – For garnish

Directions

  1. Start by cutting two pieces of cheesecloth into 8×8-inch squares and layer them to make a single sachet.

  2. In the center of the cheesecloth place the orange peels, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks. Pull the four corners of the doubled-up cheese cloth together and tie tightly with kitchen string to form a sachet.

  3. Next, combine the cider, orange juice, honey, and wine in a heavy-bottomed pot or large sauce pan). Add the sachet, and bring to a low boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer, allowing the wine to mull for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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Fruit Conserve

Marc J. Sievers

A holiday dinner in my family would not be complete without jellied cranberry sauce (with the can lines!) in a little crystal dish on the table!  While I still love that sentiment and tradition, I have upped the game with my Fruit Conserve.  My version of “cranberry sauce” is brimming with flavorful ingredients like dried figs, golden raisins, dried cherries, and currants – just to name a few!  I have even added a few tablespoons of Grand Mariner, an orange liqueur, to add a little more depth of flavor – it is the holidays after all!  What I love the most about this recipe is it can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Leftover conserve is fabulous when warmed through and served over vanilla ice cream or even on crackers with slices of Brie.  A triple-duty recipe, perfect for this time of year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Fruit Conserve

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • Water – 1 cup

  • Sugar – 1¼ cups

  • Fresh Cranberries – 1 bag (12 ounces)

  • Honey Crisp Apple – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Bosc Pear – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Orange – 1, zested, seeded and ½-inch diced

  • Lemon – 1, zested, juiced

  • Grand Marnier – 3 tablespoons

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Course Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Golden Raisins – ½ cup

  • Dried Black Mission Figs - ½ cup, rough chopped

  • Zante Currants – ½ cup

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup

Directions

  1. Start by placing the water, sugar, and cranberries into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberry skins open.

  2. Next, add the apple, pear, orange, zests, and lemon juice. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Finally, off the heat, add the raisins, currants, cherries, figs, cinnamon, salt, and Grand Marnier. Allow to cool and place into the refrigerator to set.

  4. Serve slightly chilled.

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Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Marc J. Sievers

Inspiration for new recipes really can come from anywhere.  A certain smell, a store window, a trip to a fabulous specialty foods store, and of course a restaurant!  Last year when Linda and I were out to lunch, we both ordered a vegetarian burger filled with roasted beets and nutty farrow – it was so good!  After a few tries, I came up with my Savory Beet & Farrow Cake – an elegant twist on the veggie burger we had at lunch.

Instead of making individual patties, I decided to bake it in cake form, making it elegant enough to serve at a dinner party or cut up into small squares for a cocktail party.  You can roast the vegetables and sauté the onion mixture up to three days ahead of time.  You can store them together in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Then, on the day of your soirée, continue to follow the assembly and cooking directions - et voilà!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking! 


Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main course or up to 12 as an hors d'oeuvre)

  • Sweet Potato – 1 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Beets – 2 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Farrow – ½ cup, uncooked

  • Water - ½ cup

  • Red Onion – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Sage – 1 tablespoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, finely minced

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Panko – 1 cup

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon, divided

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, divided

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Parmigiano Reggiano – ¼ cup, freshly grated

  • Gruyère – ½ cup, freshly grated

  • Eggs – 5 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – ¼ cup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch round spring-form pan by buttering both the interior sides and bottom. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the top of the parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Place the sweet potatoes and beets onto a sheet pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, turning once half way through the roasting time. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, bring ½ cup water to a boil. Add the farrow, and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender. The farrow will still have a bite to it. Drain well and set aside.

  4. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once heated, add the onions and ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Cook until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.

  5. Next, add the garlic, nutmeg, and sage, and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and cooked farrow and set aside.

  6. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and half and half. Then add both cheeses.

  7. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture and add the panko. Gently stir to mix completely.

  8. Transfer the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until set.

  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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